The importance of school classes being telecast on BTV two times a day can in no way be belittled. The novel initiative will at least keep the class VI-class X students across the country linked, though virtually, to their curricular activities. The Sangsad TV under BTV is in charge of broadcasting the programmes live in the morning and retelecast them in a later session. The great advantage of the TV classes comes from the BTV network's coverage throughout the country. Both in the cities and villages almost all income groups have access to the state-run BTV.
Against the backdrop of the long closure of schools amid the countrywide anti-coronavirus shutdown, feared to continue for some more time, the TV classes have prompted the parents to heave a sigh of relief. The schools were declared shut from March 18 to be joined later with the shutdown beginning from March 26. Few families have the financial ability to arrange private tuition for their children during prolonged school vacations. This time, though, the imperative of going by 'social distancing' doesn't permit a family to allow private tutors into one's house.
However, due to the concept being completely new to the country, a lot of students have initially dithered on the prerequisite of sitting before the TV daily to 'attend' classes. It didn't take long for them to come free of the hesitant feeling. Many educated parents are said to have played a proactive role in compelling their wards to attend the TV's learning sessions. They have apparently realised the great void awaiting their boys and girls in case the 'closures' extend for longer periods. Besides, there is another apprehension. Many students and parents have already learnt that the marks to be given on the home work at the end of every TV class will be added to the exam numbers after the schools reopen.
In this age of online activities in scores of fields, imparting classroom lessons through TV is a humble initiative. Although the country's state-run BTV has long been telecasting educational programmes, few thoughts of arranging conventional school classes during unexpected vacations. Twenty-one days into any seasonal closure, with students passing time in full holiday mood, fill the conscious parents with worries. In the present case, none can say for sure when the school classes will resume. Everything depends on the success or otherwise in the battle against the novel coronavirus, Covid-19 in short. But one thing is certain; even if the global pandemic persists for an incredibly longer period in Bangladesh, it will be wiped out one day. The problem lies with keeping the students directly linked to their classroom lessons. The ongoing television-based classrooms, if conducted efficiently, are expected to live up to the requirements of the students and the guardians.
Operating under the title 'My School at My Home', the said classes have picked some major subjects to impart lessons on. They include conventional subjects like English, Math, Science, and Bangla. Apart from them, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Knowing Bangladesh and the World have been included as relatively time-befitting subjects. The class periods vary from 45 minutes to 20/25 minutes. The uneven distribution of time-slots for the classes has raised questions among many guardians. While an ICT class is granted 45 minutes, a Bangla or an English class cannot be expected to complete its lessons in 20 or 25 minutes. This discrimination emerges quite blatantly. It is true demonstration of different types of model, tables, charts and graphics in ICT classes requires extra time. But it cannot be justified by allocating less than half an hour to the Bangla class. What's painful, the Bangla lesson remains limited to the improvised and hasty interpretation of widely read poems - for instance, one by a noted poet of the country. The English-text class suffers from some other drawbacks. There are few rationales on the part of teachers for taking up a piece and speaking to the students in English throughout a period - like seen in the class VIII. When the students of English Bachelor's (Honours) classes at the universities are nowadays used to seeing their teachers deliver lectures in English punched liberally with Bangla, the BTV's all-English class at the eighth grade looks weird. In the earlier times, students of Classes VI to X honed their English skill by following their teachers' instructions delivered mostly in Bangla. The exceptions were some grammar terms which had to be learnt in English in correct pronunciation.
The performance of the teachers on the TV screen is mixed. A few of them are indisputably excellent. Their oratory skill coupled with their explaining a matter with clarity has drawn the attention of many. A few others have traits which are enough to annoy the better and urban-based students. Bangla pronunciation of some smacks of rusticity. The teachers are yet to come free of their dialect-dominant style of speaking. A teacher of Bangla should know the difference between the pronunciation of 'Aachhey' and 'Asey'. The overall refined gesture of a school teacher as well as his or her style of speaking keeps them apart from the others. When it comes to appearing in TV classes, similar to TV programmes, the teachers ought to be especially careful about their total presence on screen. It is different from the informality with which they feel comfortable in real classes.
The seemingly unremitting way the novel coronavirus is taking root in the country, the TV classes are expected to be in operation for some more time. In that case, the authorities behind the idea need to be innovative. They should ask the teachers to change their lackadaisical style of imparting lessons to learners in these classes. The BTV-based schools should also brace for a challenge soon to be posed by upscale private schools. The latter are said to have chosen the online media in order to be constantly in touch with their students.